Anita and the Dragons

Anita and the Dragons
Hannah Carmona and Anna Cunha
Lantana Publishing

As the story opens, young Anita watches the dragons high above the rooftop where she sits in a village in the Dominican Republic imagining she’s a ‘valiant princesa’. She’s done so for years and never lets the huge beasts scare her.

Today is different though: she must say goodbye to some special, much loved people including her Abuela

and actually meet one of these dragons. Indeed she must go inside the body of a massive beast for she and her immediate family are to be carried far, far away from their beautiful Caribbean homeland to a distant place where they’ll start a new life. Her Mama has talked of learning English, plenty of accessible hot water and electricity that’s reliable.

However such promises cannot stop the mounting anxiety she feels – “What if I’m lonely? What if I get scared?” – as she is confronted by the gigantic dragon; but she’s not alone in knowing that she will miss her island home, her parents and siblings are also filled with apprehension.

Now Anita must be that brave princesa again: with chin held high once more, she bids farewell to her home, promising to return one day, and then steps boldly forward into the unknown.

Anna Cunha’s captivating, soft focus illustrations work in perfect harmony with Hannah Carmona’s lyrical first person narrative in this sensitive exploration of emigration.

A Story About Afiya

A Story About Afiya
James Berry and Anna Cunha
Lantana Publishing

Oh my goodness, Lantana publish such beautiful books and here’s another one written by Jamaican poet James Berry and illustrated by Anna Cunha.

The text is almost 30 years old and now Anna Cunha has created some stunningly gorgeous illustrations to accompany James’ lyrical prose.

The story is of Afiya, whose Swahili name means health. She’s described as having ‘fine black skin that shows off her white clothes and big brown eyes that laugh and long limbs that play.’

Young Afiya has a very special white summer dress that she wears every day, washing it every night. It’s a very special garment that picks up and collects images of things Afiya experiences – sunflowers, red roses,

grasses, butterflies, wild animals from the zoo, or fishes from the seaside.

Strangely, by night the imprint remains when she washes her dress but the following morning it’s always hanging ‘white as new paper’ once more, ready for a new design to imprint itself upon it. – boulders or autumn leaves for instance.

Each one is a source of amazement to Afiya; equally readers will be amazed at Anna Cunha’s crafting of same. Her magical matt illustrations are as lyrical as James’ text and provide the ideal complement – a perfectly seamless, unique fusion of two kinds of artistry to set the imagination soaring sky high.